Corrupt Council Officers Given 17 year in Total Jail Sentence
Seven London benefit assessors have been convicted of stealing over £1 million from three London councils. All seven council employees denied the charges of fraud, but were convicted after a three month trial and sentenced to a total of 17 years.
The thefts occurred over a period of six years. The London Council employees are from Lambeth, Kingston, Barking and Dagenham. They worked together to create false housing benefit claims, by identifying properties and then collecting realistic details for the claims to be filed and even made appointments for the fraudsters with council workers to approve the claims! They then used the own council’s systems to ensure letters were not sent out to the properties.
According to the Crown Prosecution Service Menelik Cowan was the lead fraudster; he was handed a six and a half year sentence. The other gang members received varying sentences from 18 months upward.
This gang of corrupt officials stole money from the state, money that was targeted at poor and needy households that needed accommodation. Efforts will now be made to recover the money through the ‘proceeds of crime powers’.
HMP Onley is “fundamentally unsafe”
HMP Onley, a Category C prison near Rugby, received an abysmal inspection report when inspectors visited in November 2018. The previous inspection in 2016 had found the prison to be ‘poor’ in safety, the lowest grade possible and it seems not much has changed in a recent report.
The prison is riddled with drugs, with hundreds of prisoners falling ill because of substance abuse. The 2018 inspection cited gang related violence to be a problem in the prison, alongside drugs, debt and bullying. There had been at least 200 calls to the emergency services over drug related health risks in a three month time scale. The violence in the prison is higher than the average category C prison with assaults against prison staff nearly doubling since 2016.
Safety at the prison was most concerning with only 28% of prisoners feeling safe on their first night. The reception of new prisoners was deemed to be chaotic and indicative of the rest of their stay at HMP Onley. Many prisoners refused to come out of their cells to go to training or education classes due to fear of violence or bullying.
Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of prisons said: “HMP Onley was a clear example of where the failure to deal with drugs and violence undermined many other aspects of prison life. There was a vicious circle where fear, frustration and boredom increased the demand for drugs, which in turn fuelled the violence”.
The prison also suffers from an infestation of rats, with the rats dying in cell wall cavities leaving behind horrible stench, and rubbish is thrown from cell windows.
HMP Onley is a training prison but 39% of its inmates are locked up during the day and there are not enough training places available for the population. It is therefore fundamentally failing in its role as a training prison.
Mr Clarke said there were good things happening at the prison but until it made headway to resolve the drug and violence epidemic within its walls improvement in other areas would be difficult to secure. After the 2018 inspection and the recent report HMP Onley is a good candidate to be added to Rory Stewart’s list of Britain’s worst prisons and benefit from some of the reforms being implemented.
Disgraced Sunderland Player Released From Jail
Accused and convicted of sexual offences, Adam Johnson a former Sunderland player has been released from Jail after serving half his sentence. Johnson was being held at Moorland Prison.
Johnson was convicted of engaging in sexual activity with a 15 year old fan, and was given a six year sentence in 2016. The footballer admitted to kissing the girl but denied intimate touching and that she had performed oral sex on him.
He had previously admitted to kissing another child and to grooming her.
Johnson must now register as a sex offender with the police and inform officers if he intends to travel overseas. Children’s services may also carry out a risk assessment to determine whether Johnson can spend time alone with his daughter Jayla.
Class A Norwich drug dealer Jailed
Hersi Ahmed, 25, has been sentenced to three years in Jail for dealing class A drugs in Norwich. Ahmed had been found to be in the possession of cash, mobile phones and wraps of class A drugs. He pleaded guilty to the charges.
Sergeant Tony Lester said, “I hope this sentencing reassures the local community that the Norwich Neighbourhood Policing Team will respond robustly to reports of drug dealing in the city under Operation Gravity and we will seek to secure lengthy jail sentences for those caught breaking the law”.